Bet Free Recovery Now Holiday Series: Sharing Stories, Voices, & Hope From Gambling During The Christmas Season. Meet Christine & Story #1…


Courtesy of Northstar Alliance
https://www.northstarpg.org/


Christine’s Story

When I was asked to share my story, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s so important for people to see that everyday, regular people can have a gambling addiction. And by telling my story I hope I can help others and reduce the shame of compulsive gambling.

~Christine


Looking back on it, I guess it’s not surprising that I developed a gambling problem. I had a risk-taking personality and was exposed to various forms of gambling as early as age 9. My father was a bookie and sold football tickets. I’d spend my allowance and purchase tickets from him.

I became insanely addicted to gambling in my early twenties. I was working at a charity bingo hall when the casinos opened in the ’80s, and a lot of us would go to the casinos after work.

For many years, Black Jack was my game of choice. Then one night in the mid ’90s, I had a dream that I put $20 in a slot machine and won a huge jackpot. Shortly after that dream, I went to the casino, put $20 in the slot machine and won $15,000. Not to long after, I crossed the line into addicted gambling thinking I would win bog each time I went!

From that point on, I switched almost exclusively to slot machines. It was a bigger, faster win, and I liked that I could isolate myself more. With cards, I had to communicate with others. I liked the solitutde of being alone and not have to be social with others when playing my slots.

Within six months after the big win, I realized I bit off more than I could chew. I had given back all the money, and more. I kept chasing that feeling of the huge win. See, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, the disease keeps you gambling until every penny is gone.

I soon became secretive about my gambling. I lied about losing and I lied about playing. I gambled any chance I could. I was feverishly stuck within the “cycle” of this disease of addiction.

In 2004, I started a business that quickly had financial success. I had so much money that I thought I’d never run out. But eventually I couldn’t even come up with postage to ship a package. I started selling stolen goods to cover my losses and eventually ended up in prison on a mail fraud charge.


4,785 Woman Arrested Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock



After prison, I was released to a halfway house, where I stayed for six weeks before I had to move out. I had nothing but a car. I’d lost a beautiful home, a great marriage, and had never previously wanted for anything. But I was angry, and the first thing I did was drive straight to Mystic Lake Casino.

Less than nine months later, I was back in prison for violating probation by gambling at casinos. I was sentenced to 15 months in a higher security prison. But this time it was different.

Something clicked the day I was shackled off to jail and I had a spiritual shift. I decided that I would never gamble again, no matter what. I evaluated the choices I made and why I did what I did. Once I was released, I took responsibility for my own actions and worked hard to get back on my feet. I took a job at a restaurant and am now the manager.

My life is so much better and calmer now. I meditate every morning and am very involved in GA meetings. I listen to others and share my story whenever I can. I receive so much respect from other people and have enormous respect for others. I am very available to my family and my friends, some of whom have gone through recovery with me.

It means a lot to me to be very honest about this disease and what it’s done to me. A lot of things about gambling made me feel like the scum of the earth. It was much worse than anything I felt as an alcohol and drug addict.

I focus on my recovery at every opportunity. I hope to make a difference to others who similarly never expected they would go through the horrible things we do as gambling addicts. I urge and advocate to others now. Don’t let addicted gambling steal your life...
~Christine



Please visit my friends of the Northstar Alliance on Probleming Gambling for Help, Hope, and Resources! https://www.northstarpg.org/online-gambling-resources/


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Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance


The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA), the Minnesota affiliate to the National Council on Problem Gambling, is a non-profit, gambling-neutral organization dedicated to improving the lives of Minnesotans affected by problem gambling. NPGA is a coalition of individuals and organizations sharing the belief that problem gambling is a serious public health problem that is both treatable and preventable.

We work to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the stigma that’s often associated with it. We advocate for funding for treatment programs and provide professional training for those who work with problem gamblers. The collective impact of our efforts help individuals, their families and their communities deal with the devastating effects of problem gambling.

As a private 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, NPGA is funded by membership fees, financial and in-kind donations, and state and private grants. A considerable portion of our funding comes from the state of Minnesota and from major corporate sponsorships from the Minnesota Lottery, Canterbury Park, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

Mission Statement

The Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by problem gambling through advocacy, education, training and research.

We achieve this by:

  • Bringing together those with a professional or personal interest in problem gambling.
  • Providing complete, accurate and unbiased information.
  • Advocating for public policies that assist problem gamblers and their families.
  • Raising public awareness of problem gambling.
  • Identifying those whose professions might bring them in contact with problem gamblers and their families, and educating those professionals on appropriate interventions.
  • Advocating for, conducting, and disseminating research that furthers our understanding of problem gambling.
  • Developing, delivering and supporting programs to prevent problem gambling.
Core Values

We work toward our vision by upholding these core values:

Neutrality – As an affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling, we are neither for nor against legalized gambling.

Accuracy – We strive to ensure that all information we provide is accurate and complete.

Compassion – We recognize that problem gambling does not result from moral failings and that those with a gambling problem are not inherently bad people.

Inclusion – We believe that the interests of those affected by problem gambling are best served by inclusion of a wide range of interests. These interests include,but are not limited to, those in recovery, family members, treatment professionals, the gambling industry, those having professional contacts with problem gamblers, and those in other helping professions.


The Holiday Season Is Upon Us. It’s My Seventh Year of Recovery Holiday Watch and Blogging. Ramblings of Christmas’s Past …

The Holiday Season Is Upon Us. It’s My Seventh Year of Recovery Holiday Watch and Blogging. Ramblings of Christmas’s Past …

 

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WELCOME Recovery Friends and New Friend Visitors . . . 

 

Well, the holiday season is here! First comes Thanksgiving, and you know the rest. I am doing my Recovery Blogging and on Holiday Recovery Watch again this year. It will be my seventh year in a row. WHY?  Because no one needs to be ALONE through the holiday season.

I know from my own experiences how hard the holidays are when maintaining recovery or for those who may be looking to reach out for help. And believe it or not, it is the most active time on my recovery blog and my email me as well.  Some do come to reach out for help from this cunning disease of addicted gambling. I can’t count the many paychecks I wasted for a few hours of “Escaping” my haunting traumatic past childhood and abuse.

I began using gambling as a way to cope and not FEEL the pain of my past anymore. Hence, one of the underlying issues of the “WHYS” I became an addicted compulsive gambler. Another thing I like to do for the holidays, and again, I will be lowering the cost of my ebook, a best-selling memoir titled; “Addicted To Dimes. Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat”

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Beginning Nov. 26th, 2019 through Jan. 21st, 2020
 my ebook will be on sale for only $1.99 as it makes a great gift if you know someone you care about who may have a gambling problem. By reading my memoir, it just may open their eyes to know there is help available and they are not the only ones suffering in silence from a gambling problem. Funny how many ask me how I came up with the subtitle.

It came to me very easily as “Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,” is what gambling addiction turned me into while deep within my addiction! It is a raw in-depth look inside the “how and why” I became an addict as my past childhood trauma created “The Perfect Storm” for me to turn to problem gambling as it turned into a full-blown addiction …

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catherine-townsend-lyon

My E-Book Now on Amazon!


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TO BE CLEAR, my book was not written for a “HOW To RECOVER,” book, it is about my life and the “WHYS” I turned to addiction in the first place. But, by reading the book, my hopes are they may relate to my experiences and give them HOPE …That many people have a gambling problem and have been successful in maintaining long-term recovery from this cunning addiction and disease. I can still remember some of my Ghosts” of Christmas’s past and when I was still deep within my addicted gambling days like it was just yesterday.

 

I freshly remember those times going into a department store, as I was walking up and down the isles with tears in my eyes and wishing I could buy this or that for those I loved for gifts. So many feelings ran through me like sadness, anger, shame, and guilt because I had no money to do so due to gambling it away.  It would just trigger me with more anger and rage and set me up and off to another gambling binge in hopes of winning enough money to buy Christmas gifts for everyone. Well, like they say? “The House Always Wins!” But now I was gambling with my LIFE and not just MONEY anymore.


Another holiday sickening story … In 2002, we got to a point and, of course, due to my gambling addiction, we’d thought we’d have to sell our home before we lost it. But? A family member, an enabler came to give me another bail-out. He stepped in and gave me the money! I was given the money to get caught up but within 2 days? 

I gambled it away. 

OH, the lies, the covering, and hiding were exhausting and the suffering in silence for many years was taking a toll on me. And then? Right before Thanksgiving in 2002, I lost my best friend and had watched her die of ovarian cancer and set me spinning to an awful gambling binge so bad I attempted my first suicide! That was how I spent my 40th birthday and Thanksgiving that year was from my first suicide attempt.

It was a failed attempt and spent the next few days in the hospital. From there, I was transferred into an addiction/mental health crisis center for 28 days and where I began treatment for my gambling addiction. While there and after many tests ran, I learned I had been suffering from several severe mental health issues of severe depression with high mania, PTSD from my childhood sexual abuse and trauma, anxiety and more. I was a broken mess!


Some of my points and an example? We have lost many and those who we have read about who were high profile people. Although every life matters, we have lost many from the disease of all types of addictions. The danger here is the longer you are abstinent the greater the risk of death and don’t recover from a relapse.

As I looked, I did not find research or a study to this fact, I did, however, find a 2014 article close to the topic written by my friend and Author, Omar Manejwala and his book; “Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough” who shares some perspective of this topic.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/craving/201402/how-often-do-long-term-sober-alcoholics-and-addicts-relapse

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Even though I didn’t need a substance for my addicted gambling. didn’t need to pop some pills or drink a mood-altering liquid or need to use a needle? I got the same rush and euphoric high as a drug addict or alcoholic and so on …I would be triggered and had the same cravings as any other addiction. ADDICTED GAMBLERS just do it with our own brain and body chemicals, so again, scary, No Substance Required and just as deadly!

 

Now I have always been a firm believer that we need to stay very conscious of where we have been and where we came from with our addictions and where we are today. We can never become complacent nor think we are ever “done” with our recovery work. However, how you choose to get there? it is your Power to Choose. For myself, I needed any and everything I could do to begin and maintain recovery. After you attempt suicide twice from this baffling addiction? You have to do whatever it takes! And I did.

If you work a 12-Step program, go through Treatment, Counseling or whatever you decide on? You have to be diligent and keep reworking those steps, working on changing those character defects, change your thinking process and all those nasty bad habits and behaviors we learned and relied on to us within our addictions.

WHY?

Because all that recovery work becomes an important tool to look back on of your earlier work and see where you still need more recovery work and to see the growth in areas. You can also see how your self-worth begins to come back and the shaping of your new life begins … There are times like the holidays when we need to look back to appreciate where we are today, living in the now, and begin living a beautiful life while maintaining your recovery journey.

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So don’t wait! The holiday season is a perfect time to reach out for the help that is available to begin your recovery. Don’t you want to LIVE a new beautiful life? It’s not too late to have an amazing holiday season with family and friends, as you become bet free and happy. I have been very ‘Blessed and I am Humble and have a heart of Gratitude’ for my recovery journey thus far. That comes from “a power greater than I” and from all that I do as an Advocate. And you can be happy too!

Isn’t your life worth a new beginning?

YES!

YOU ARE Worth IT and so much more! 

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~Advocate and Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon